Introduction: Map Puzzle Coasters

My unique set of coasters is made from any map. Separately, the coasters are practical for you and your guests, but when stored on a coffee table, or side table, the antiqued, put-together map makes a great conversation piece. To further add interest, I suggest choosing a map of a place that is dear to you, such as somewhere you've traveled, or a location in your family heritage. In this example, I selected 'Middle Earth' from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. These one-of-a-kind coaster sets would make memorable gifts!


  • 0.75 inch thick pine wood
  • Elmers school glue
  • instant coffee
  • sponge
  • paper towel
  • oven
  • heavy books
  • band saw
  • palm sander
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • paint brush
  • Plasti Dip spray
  • tack cloth
  • disposable container
  • 1/8" thick cork (9" x12")
  • contact cement

Step 1: Dyeing the Map

Print a map of your choice off the internet onto a piece of white copy paper. Lay it on a baking sheet. Start by heating 1/2 cup of water in a microwave. Then mix the water with 3 tablespoons of instant coffee. You may want to add more coffee to make the paper darker when you dye it. When the instant coffee is stirred in, pour it onto the map. Using a sponge, rub the coffee all over the map. Let the map sit and soak up the coffee for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lay a paper towel over the map, and gently press on it to soak up the leftover coffee. Take the coffee soaked paper towel, and squeeze it into a small dish to save the excess coffee.

Step 2: Baking the Map

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Slide the baking sheet into the oven for about 5 minutes. You will know that the map is done baking when the edges of the paper start to curl. The reason I suggested squeezing the leftover coffee into a small dish, is in case you want to soak and bake the paper again to make it darker. After each application of coffee, you must re-bake the map to dry it again. In this example, I applied coffee and baked the map three times in a row. When the paper is as dark as you want it, and dry enough, set it under a stack of heavy books overnight to flatten it out.

Step 3: Cutting the Wood

Cut 6 pieces of wood that are 4-1/4" by 3-11/32". Using 220-grit sandpaper, sand all six sides of the blocks. Use tack cloth to remove the dust.

Step 4: Decoupage

Cut your map into six equal parts (4-1/4" by 3-11/32"). Make sure that the map pieces fit the blocks. Trim them if necessary.

In a disposable container, mix 3 T. Elmer's school glue with 1 T. water.

Paint the top face of one block, and the back of one map. Carefully center the map on the block, smoothing out the air bubbles from the center to the edges. Repeat with remaining blocks.

When the glue is fully dry, apply glue mixture to the top of the map images. Repeat for five top coats, letting dry completely between coats. (Allow about 1-2 hours between coats.)

Step 5: Apply Cork

Using each block as a guide, cut cork to fit using a utility knife.

Paint contact cement on the base of the blocks, and also one side of each piece of cork. Allow to stand 15 minutes; then adhere each piece of cork to the base of each block.

Step 6: Clear-coat

In a well-ventilated area, spray the Plasti Dip over the top and sides of each coaster. Allow to dry.

Maps Challenge

Runner Up in the
Maps Challenge